This was a fun one and I like the way it turned out.
The hardest thing about it was the title. Harmony had always been the working title but I couldn't find any way to jazz it up. It wasn't until after the poem had been written that I came up with the current title. I like the polarity between the words, fighting and harmony.
Fighting for Harmony
Based on 1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 14:10, 19; Jude 1:19; Proverbs 20:19, 26:20; Matthew 18:15-17; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
United in purpose, in thoughts and decisions,
I beg you to be of one mind.
Let harmony flow so there are no divisions;
the church should be ever aligned.
Why criticize your brother's motive or action?
Why try to make him appear small?
His life does not need to meet your satisfaction
or precepts you've nailed to the wall.
Why, who made you judge and a jury demanding
your brother meets laws of your own?
One day we will all face true judgement when standing
before mighty God at his throne.
Agree to pursue what makes peace with your brother,
encouraging words are a start!
The worldly ones with no thought for another
are those who split churches apart.
A gossip shares secrets with those undiscerning;
avoid such a blowhard as friend.
Without any fuel raging fires stop burning;
no gossip brings tensions an end.
If any believer or brother has wronged you,
confront him to work issues out.
If he will not listen take others along to
be witnesses, ending all doubt.
Submit to your leaders whose only ambition
is keeping their eye on your soul.
With joy let them lead you with not one condition;
it profits you not, on the whole.
I urge you to honor the leaders who guide you,
their work is exceedingly hard.
Advising, instructing, for walking beside you —
esteem them with highest regard.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)
Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
Romans 14:10 (PH)
Why, then, criticize your brother’s actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ.
Romans 14:19 (Msg)
Let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.
Jude 1:19 (Msg)
These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves.
Proverbs 20:19 (NRSV)
A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler.
Proverbs 26:20 (LB)
Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops.
Matthew 18:15-17a (Msg)
If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him-work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you have made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church.
Hebrews 13:17 (Msg)
Be responsible to you pastoral leaders. Listen to their council. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a (Msg)
Honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
NLT: New Living Translation • Ph: New Testament in Modern English by JB Phillips • Msg: The Message • NRSV: New Revised Standard Version • LB: Living Bible
After I had finished reading through Leviticus and having written only one poem from that book — well, I was okay with that. But, when I started reading Numbers and found the story of Nadab and Abihu reviewed once more, I thought I should take another look at that story back in Leviticus. If it was important enough to bring up again, then it must be important.
This is the family line of Aaron and Moses as it was recorded when the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: The names of Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the oldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These sons of Aaron were anointed and ordained to minister as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died in the LORD’s presence in the wilderness of Sinai when they burned before the LORD the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. Since they had no sons, this left only Eleazar and Ithamar to serve as priests with their father, Aaron.
You can read the story found in Leviticus on your own. But, the thing that stood out to me was how Aaron and his two remaining sons were not allowed to grieve their obvious loss. I've heard this story before and moved on without giving it much thought. But, when I stop to put myself in Aaron's sandals and replace his two sons with my two sons, it makes it real and suddenly I see it in a new light.
Playing with Fire
O, Nadab, my firstborn! O, what have you done?
What caused you to burn this strange fire?
Did you think that I could protect you, my son,
if you went against God's desire?
Did you not believe when, before everyone,
God stated the rules he'd require?
Abihu, I loved you, and will till I die;
you've followed the path of your brother.
You've always contested each other to vie
to see who could better the other.
Now, memories of you are too few to supply
true solace for me and your mother.
My children, my sons, and the first of my joys,
I longed to embrace you, bereaving.
But, Moses convinced me to maintain my poise,
stand firm when I saw you not breathing.
In public, though I could not mourn for you boys,
my heart will forever be grieving.
As mentioned last week, this poem took longer than normal for me to write. But, I was also working on another project during this time — so that was part of the delay.
This was one the those times when I had the title of the poem before writing a single word. Rick Warren wrote in chapter 20 (Restoring Broken Fellowship) in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life:
If you want God's blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker.
So, armed with a title, a bunch of scripture, and the grace of God I was off on another journey. And, in the process, learned the meaning of atone.
Based on 2 Corinthians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:1-2; Matthew 5:9; 1 Corinthians 6:5; James 4:1-2; Matthew 5:23-24; Job 5:2; Proverbs 19:11; Matthew 7:5; Proverbs 15:1; Romans 12:18
As you've been atoned to myself through my son,
I've asked you to minister grace:
make peace between me and the world that you face —
atone means quite simply, at one.
Restore, or atone, your relationships now!
Disputes between Christians must end!
Agree with and love — be a like-minded friend;
splash love as my oceans allow.
Those working for peace are called children of God;
those causing the quarrels are not.
There must be a wise one among you that's got
the tools to keep Christians declawed.
What causes your quarrels? How do they begin?
You want what you cannot obtain.
You ask not so have not and flounder in vain,
and sink in your quagmire of sin.
If you enter worship, an offering to lift,
recall, then, a grudge by a friend,
just leave it — make peace with that brother again.
'Tis then you may offer your gift.
Resentment and worry bring death to the fool,
a senseless, absurd thing to do.
The person hurt most is none other than you —
exploding with anger as fuel.
The wisdom of man keeps his anger in check;
his glory lets wrongs pass him by.
If you could remove that great log from your eye,
you might see your friend's tiny speck.
A gentle response will make angry words cease,
a sharp tongue will kindle a fire.
In all that you do, may this be your desire:
be one with the world in peace.
2 Corinthians 5:18 (GWT)
[God] has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (Msg)
I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other.
Philippians 2:1-2 (Msg)
If you’ve gotten anything out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, . . . Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.
Matthew 5:9 (NLT)
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
1 Corinthians 6:5 (TEV)
Shame on you! Surely there is at least one wise person in your fellowship who can settle a dispute between fellow Christians.
James 4:1-2 (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? . . . You want something but don’t get it . . . . You do not have, because you do not ask God.
Matthew 5:23-24 (Msg)
If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Job 5:2 (TEV)
To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do and you are only hurting yourself with your anger.
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Matthew 7:5 (NLT)
First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the spec on your friend’s eye.
Proverbs 15:1 (Msg)
A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Romans 12:18 (TEV)
Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.
GWT: God's Word Translation • Msg: The Message • NLT: New Living Translation • TEV: Today's English Version • NIV: New International Version